State By State Requirements to Become a Lawyer

Law Careers in Nevada

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational and Employment Statistics for May 2011 states that the average lawyer in Nevada made a mean salary of $122,210 that year. Lawyers practicing in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area earned an even higher mean wage of $146,150. The Nevada Workforce Informer expects about 850 new jobs per year for lawyers in the state from the period 2008 through 2018. If you wish to claim one of these projected lawyer jobs in Nevada, keep reading to discover how to become a Nevada lawyer.  

Step 1

Complete Your Nevada Undergrad Pre-Law Major

The State Bar of Nevada does not specify any pre-law school education required in order to sit for the state’s bar exam. However, it does require that all who sit for the state’s bar exam graduate from an American Bar Association-approved law school, and all ABA-approved law schools require that you have at least a bachelor’s degree prior to admission.  

Accreditation

All ABA-approved law schools deem that your bachelor’s degree must be from an accredited university or college. If an accreditation agency listed with the U.S. Department of Education has accredited your institution, the ABA should accept the validity of your undergraduate education.

Requirements and Standards

There are no pre-set courses, majors or minors for pre-law students in Nevada. Some courses are recommended over others to improve your chances of getting into and succeeding in law school. These include courses that challenge you and interest you, in areas such as human nature, history, communications (oral and written), political science and government, business and economics, and philosophy.

Degree Options

The undergraduate education requirement of the ABA for admission to its approved law schools is that you have a bachelor’s degree, within any major. Some undergraduate institutions may offer pre-law majors. If your school does not, majors taken from the above-listed coursework choices are often your best option.


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Step 2

LSAT (Law School Admission Test) in Nevada

Next, you must pass the LSAT, or Law School Admission Test. Passing this standardized test is vital to your admission to an ABA-approved law school.

How to prepare

You can find free practice tests and other study aids at the LSAT website. Other options for LSAT preparation in Nevada are:  
LSAT Exam Prep Courses in Nevada:

Exam content

On the LSAT, you will be tested on your skills in reading comprehension, analytical reasoning, and logical reasoning. You must also create a writing sample at the end of the test, which is not scored for the test but is mailed to the law schools to which you apply for enrollment. Skills measured on the LSAT are those that are necessary for a student’s success in law school. These include being able to read and comprehend long, complex passages, organizing and managing information, drawing inferences, thinking critically, and analyzing and evaluating others’ reasoning and arguments.

Application process

LSAT applications are accepted online through the Law School Admission Council (LSAC). Here, you will create an account at LSAC.org and pay the $160 examination fee. The LSAT is given in June, October, December and February on Saturdays and Wednesdays in the following exam locations in Nevada:  

  • Community College of Southern Nevada, 6375 W. Charleston Blvd., Las Vegas, NV 89146-1164
  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas, Box 451002, 4505 S Maryland Pky, Las Vegas, NV 89154
  • University of Nevada-Reno, 1664 North Virginia Street, Reno, NV 89557

Receiving Your LSAT Score

You should receive your LSAT score via postal mail about three weeks post-test. The score scale for the LSAT is 120 to 180. Nevada law schools and the median LSAT scores they accept include:

  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas: 156

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Step 3

Go to Law School in Nevada

Application process

Now that you have passed the LSAT, you are ready to apply to ABA-accredited law schools throughout the United States. The State Bar of Nevada only specifies that you must graduate from an ABA-approved law school – it may be in any state in the nation. There are more than 200 ABA-accredited law schools listed in the ABA-LSAC Official Guide to ABA-Approved Law Schools.

Credential Assembly Service

It is imperative that you use the Law School Admission Council’s Credential Assembly Service (CAS) when you apply for admission to any ABA-accredited law school. This service standardizes and centralizes your undergraduate academic records, giving law schools to which you reply a report including all of your undergraduate transcripts, academic work, LSAT score, letters of recommendation, online evaluations from others, and LSAT writing sample. You must pay the LSAC $155 for this service.

Accreditation

You must graduate from an ABA-approved law school, under the rules of the State Bar of Nevada. The only exception to this rule is for lawyers who have already been licensed in another state and have practiced for 10 or more years. Even then, however, candidates who have not graduated from an ABA-approved law school must have their education evaluated by the Bar.

ABA-Accredited Law Schools in Nevada

Only one law school in Nevada is ABA-accredited:

Course requirements

Subjects that are covered on the Nevada bar exam and which you can expect to study in an ABA-accredited law school include: Agency and Partnership; Community Property; Conflict of Laws; Constitutional Law; Contracts; Corporations; Criminal Law and Procedure; Evidence; Persons and Domestic Relations; Real Property; Remedies; Torts; Articles 2, 3, and 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code;  Wills, Estates and Trusts; Nevada Rules of Civil Procedure and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Additionally, skills that lawyers use will be tested and should be studied. These include legal analysis/reasoning, factual analysis, identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas, problem solving, organizing and managing legal tasks, and communication  (both written and oral).

Online Law Degrees

Internship

Hands-on experience and practice is a large part of the curriculum of most ABA-accredited law schools. Practice helps to reinforce the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom. Depending upon your law school’s curriculum, you might participate in community service workshops and programs, legal aid clinics, work in government agencies, work in law firms, or an externship in the courts.

Degree Programs

You must have a Juris Doctor (JD) degree from an ABA-approved law school to take the Nevada bar exam, under rules of the State Bar of Nevada. You may pursue another degree alongside your JD degree, to increase your career options after graduation. This may include (but is not limited to) any of the following areas:

  • JD/Master of Business Administration
  • JD/Master of Social Work
  • JD/Doctor of Philosophy in Education

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Step 4

Take the Nevada State Bar Exam

Use this handy checklist to make sure that you are eligible to take the Nevada bar exam:

  • Received a bachelor’s degree from an accredited undergraduate institution
  • Passed the LSAT
  • Received a professional law degree from an ABA-approved law school
  • Be present/available within the State of Nevada, and remain so until the Bar has finished its examination, including any investigations, interviews and hearings to determine your morals, character, qualifications and fitness to practice law
  • Not have been refused admission to practice law in any other US jurisdiction due to unfitness of character
  • Not subject to any emotional or mental problems that will interfere with your ability to practice law
  • Not have been disbarred from the bar of any US jurisdiction due to unfitness of character
  • Not be a drug abuser of legal drugs/user of illegal drugs
  • Show financial responsibility
  • Comply with any court orders

Non-ABA approved law school graduates

Non-ABA-approved law school graduates are not eligible to take the Nevada bar exam unless you meet the following qualifications:

  • You have 10 or more years of active and continuous practice of law in another US jurisdiction
  • You have a functional equivalency certification conducted by the Committee on Functional Equivalency of the State Bar of Nevada. Contact michaelh@nvbar.org for more information.

Graduates of Foreign Law Schools

Graduates of foreign law schools are not eligible to take Nevada’s bar exam without having a functional equivalency certification performed. Contact the above-mentioned committee for more information.

Preparation

You will find free information on the National Conference of Bar Examiners website to help you prepare for the national sections of the Nevada bar exam. These include the Multistate Bar Examination (MBE) and the Multistate Performance Test (MPT). Other bar exam preparation resources in Nevada are:

Exam content

The Nevada bar exam is administered over a two-and-a-half day period. The first day, you will write four Nevada essay questions of one hour each, and take the MPT. The MPT tests your lawyer skills in the following areas: legal analysis/reasoning, factual analysis, identifying and resolving ethical dilemmas, problem solving, organizing and managing legal tasks, and communication (both written and oral).

The second day of the bar exam is devoted to the MBE, 200 multiple-choice questions on the following topics: Constitutional Law, Contracts/Sales, Criminal Law/Procedure, Evidence, Real Property, Torts.

Day three, you will write four more Nevada essay questions of one hour each. The essay questions may be on any of the following subjects: Agency, Commercial Paper, Community Property, Conflict of Laws, Corporations, Ethics, Nevada & Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Partnerships, Persons & Domestic Relations, Remedies, Sales, Secured Transactions, Wills, Estates & Trusts, and the six MBE subjects.

Application Process

You must order an Application for Admission to the Nevada Bar Examination online. It must be typed and completed in its entirety, with the proper items signed and notarized where indicated. Along with your application, be sure to include:

  • Certified transcripts from all law schools attended and from any colleges and universities from which a degree was received. (Transcripts must be filed within 30 days of filing your exam application)  
    • If you are filing your application prior to your law school graduation, provide a transcript as soon as you receive your JD degree indicating this
  • Sign and have notarized an original Authorization and Release (enclosed in application). Return this original and four copies with your application when you file it.
  • Two completed FBI fingerprint cards provided by the State Bar of Nevada within the application package. Take these cards to a police station, sheriff’s office, or fingerprinting agency and have your fingerprints taken. Sign and fill in required personal data on both cards.
  • Original Department of Motor Vehicles Report from every state in which you have been licensed to drive during the past five years.
  • Five photographs of yourself, passport-size and style (2 in x 2 in), taken within the last six months.  Attach one photograph to page two of the original and a copy of your bar application , place one photograph in an envelope with your name on the envelope and the reverse side of the photograph, attach one photograph to the provided identification card and sign the card, and attach one photograph to the provided examination badge and sign the badge.
  • Two letters of reference from references you listed in the application. If filed separately, they must be received no later than 30 days after filing your application.  
  • Fees: if you are taking the July exam and filing prior to March 15, the fee is $700. If postmarked between March 16 and May 15, the fee increases to $1250. If you wish to use your own laptop during the exam, the separate fee for this is $120. All checks must be payable to the State Bar of Nevada. (If taking the February exam, fees and deadlines will be noted on the application).

Send two original copies of your application to The Board of Bar Examiners, State Bar of Nevada, P.O. Box 50, Las Vegas, NV 89125-0050. You may submit one original and one copy of the enclosed application form, but each must have your original signature, notarization and photograph.

Pass Rates

Bar exam results are published by the State Bar of Nevada about three months after the exam and posted on its website. The State Bar of Nevada has published the following past bar exam passing results:

Feb. 2012: 56 percent of all test-takers passed the bar exam
July 2011: 66%
February 2011: 63%
July 2010: 66%
February 2010: 48%
July 2009: 63%
February 2009: 56%
July 2008: 69%
February 2008: 57%
July 2007: 66%
February 2007: 53%
July 2006: 66%
February 2006: 55%
July 2005: not given
February 2005: 67%
July 2004: 61%
February 2004: 50%
2003: 61%
2002: 59%

Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE)

In addition to passing the Nevada bar exam, the State Bar of Nevada requires that you pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam (MPRE) within three years of passing the bar exam. You may register to take the MPRE through the National Conference of Bar Examiners. It is administered in March, August and November in the following locations in Nevada:

  • University of Nevada-Las Vegas
  • Community College of Southern Nevada, North Las Vegas

Admission on Motion

Nevada does not offer reciprocity or admission by motion to attorneys who are already licensed. All applicants to the Nevada bar must pass the state’s bar exam.

MBE Transfer Scores

Nevada will not accept your score from an MBE taken in another jurisdiction.

Licensing and Admission to the Bar

You should receive your bar exam results about nine weeks after you take the exam, by mail. You will be notified, should you pass, of the time, date and place of your bar admission swearing-in ceremony.

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Step 5

You’ve Been Admitted to the Nevada Bar

Congratulations on passing the Nevada bar exam! You are now a member of the Nevada State Bar and will receive all the privileges such membership entails. These benefits include:

  • Free Fastcase online legal research service
  • Discounted shipping services from FedEx Advantage
  • Discounted car rentals from Hertz, Avis and Budget
  • Clio web-based practice management system
  • Law Pay credit card processing service for lawyers
  • Access to the State Bar of Nevada Career Center
  • Tax-qualified retirement plan services from ABA retirement funds

As a new member of the Nevada State Bar, you must complete a mandatory bridge-the-gap course during your first year of admission. Information will be provided to you upon admittance to the Bar.

Jobs for Nevada lawyers are available in private practice, law firms, government, corporations, non-profit organizations, and many other settings. There are countless law firms across the state, including civil litigators Prestige Law Group in  Northwest Las Vegas, multipractice firm Lionel Sawyer & Collins in Reno, boutique litigation firm Pisanelli Bice PLLC in Las Vegas, and civil litigators Atkin Winner & Sherrod in Las Vegas.

Companies throughout Nevada often hire lawyers in various capacities. Some of the state’s largest companies include NV Energy in Las Vegas, Caesars Entertainment in Las Vegas, Credit One Bank in Las Vegas, Armscor Precision International in Pahrump, and Impulse Software in Las Vegas.

Legal specialty certification

Under Nevada law, you may list up to three areas of specialization provided that you are properly certified in each specialty by a recognized and approved certification agency. The Nevada Supreme Court automatically approves all organizations approved by the American Bar Association. The most commonly utilized certification agencies for lawyers in Nevada include:

  • American Board of Certification (ABC):
    •  Business Bankruptcy
    • Consumer Bankruptcy
    • Creditors’ Rights
  • American Board of Professional Liability Attorneys:
    •  Accounting Professional Liability
    • Legal Professional Liability
    • Medical Professional Liability
  • National Elder Law Foundation for Elder Law:
    • Elder law
  • National Association of Estate Planners and Councils- Estate Law Specialist Board, Inc.:
  • Estate Planning Law
  • National Board of Trial Advocacy:
    • Civil Trial Advocacy
    • Criminal Trial Advocacy
    • Family Law Trial Advocacy

Requirements for maintaining license

Nevada rules state that you must complete 10 hours of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) each year, with at least two of these hours in ethics. For more information, contact the CLE Department of the Nevada State Bar.

Court Systems in Nevada

The Nevada Judiciary holds the following structure:

  • Nevada Supreme Court- the state’s highest court and the court of last resort. All appeals and writs from the Nevada District Court are filed with the Nevada Supreme Court, as there is no intermediate court of appeals in the state. It is located in Carson City.
  • Nevada District Courts- the state’s trial court of general jurisdiction, spread out over nine districts across Nevada, civil jurisdiction of $10,000 or more. Districts include:
    • 1st: Carson City and Storey County
    • 2nd: Washoe County
    • 3rd: Churchill and Lyon Counties
    • 4th: Elko County
    • 5th: Esmeralda, Mineral and Nye Counties
    • 6th: Humboldt, Lander and Pershing Counties
    • 7th: Eureka, Lincoln and White Pine Counties
    • 8th: Clark County
    • 9th: Douglas County
  • Nevada Justice Courts- have civil jurisdiction up to $10,000
    • Small Claims Division – civil jurisdiction up to $5000
  • Nevada Municipal Courts – have limited jurisdiction over certain types of civil and criminal cases, including misdemeanor violations of city ordinances, violations of municipal ordinances, civil claims less than $2500

Elective membership organizations

The following are some elective membership associations for Nevada lawyers that you might consider joining:

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Nevada Resources

General Resources

Law Exams

Lawyer Career Specialties

  Nevada Statistics:
 
NV Active Lawyers 6,523
Average Annual Wage $122,210

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